Jerome Henry Brudos
January 31, 1939
|Died||March 28, 2006 (aged 67)|
|Cause of death||Liver cancer|
|Other names||The Lust Killer|
The Shoe Fetish Slayer
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
Span of crimes
|January 26, 1968–April 22, 1969|
|May 25, 1969|
Jerry Brudos was born in Webster, South Dakota as the younger of two sons. His mother had wanted a girl and was very displeased that she had another son instead. She would also constantly subject him to emotional and physical abuse. As a child, Brudos and his family would move into different homes in the Pacific Northwest, before settling in Salem, Oregon.
Brudos had a fetish for women's shoes from the age of 5, after playing with stiletto heeled shoes at a local junkyard. He reportedly attempted to steal the shoes of his first grade teacher. Brudos also had a fetish for women's underwear and claimed that he would steal underwear from female neighbors as a child. He spent his teen years in and out of psychotherapy and psychiatric hospitals.
In his teenaged years, Brudos began to stalk local women, knocking them down or choking them unconscious, and fleeing with their shoes. At age 17, he abducted and beat a young woman, threatening to stab her if she did not follow his sexual demands. Shortly after being arrested, he was taken to a psychiatric ward of Oregon State Hospital for nine months. There it was found Brudos's sexual fantasies revolved around his hatred towards his mother and women in general. He underwent a psychiatric evaluation and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Despite being institutionalized, Brudos graduated from high school with his class in 1957. Shortly after graduation, he became an electronics technician.
In 1961, Brudos married a 17-year-old girl, Darcie, with whom he would father two children, and settled in a Salem suburb. He asked his new bride to do housework naked except for a pair of high heels while he took pictures. It was at about this time that he began complaining of migraine headaches and "blackouts," relieving his symptoms with night-prowling raids to steal shoes and lace undergarments. Brudos would experience a transvestite period, where he used the female persona as a form of escape mechanism. Brudos kept the shoes, underwear, and (for a time) the bodies of his victims in a garage that he would not allow his wife to enter without first announcing her arrival on an intercom that he had set up.
Murders and incarceration
- Linda Slawson, 19, a door-to-door encyclopedia saleswoman who knocked on Brudos' door in January 1968. Brudos lured her to the basement while his mother and children were in the house, knocked her out with a wooden plank, and strangled her. He dressed her in different female undergarments and shoes he had stolen, arranged her body in provocative poses, and used a hacksaw to cut off her left foot, which he kept in a freezer and used to model his collection of high-heel shoes. He disposed of the body in the Willamette River.
- Karen Sprinker, 18, abducted at gunpoint from a parking lot outside a department store in May 1968. Brudos was dressed in women's clothes during this attack. He brought her to his garage, made her try on his collection of undergarments and pose while he photographed her, raped her, and strangled her by hanging her by her neck from a pulley. Brudos had sex with the body on several occasions and cut off her breasts to make plastic molds. Afterward, he tied the body to a 6-cylinder car engine with nylon cord and threw it in the Willamette.
- Jan Susan Whitney, 23, a motorist whose car broke down on Interstate 5 between Salem and Albany on November 26, 1968. Brudos offered to drive her to his home with the excuse of letting her call a tow truck there. While still in the car, he strangled her with a leather strap and raped her post-mortem. He kept the body hanging from the pulley in his garage for several days, during which he dressed, photographed, and had sex with it. This time, Brudos cut off one of her breasts and made a resin mold of it that he used as a paperweight. Afterward he tied the body to a piece of railroad iron and threw it in the Willamette along with Slawson's foot, which had rotted.
- Sharon Wood, 24, attempted to abduct at gunpoint from the basement floor of a parking garage in Portland on April 21, 1969.
- Gloria Gene Smith, 15, attempted to abduct on April 22, 1969.
- Linda Salee, 22, abducted from a shopping mall parking lot on April 23, 1969. Brudos brought her to his garage where he raped and strangled her, and played with her corpse. He decided to not cut her breasts off because they were "too pink," and instead drove an electrical current through the body in an attempt to make it "jump", which failed. Afterward, he tied the body to a car transmission with a nylon cord and threw it in the Willamette.
Brudos would dress up in high heels and masturbate after committing a murder. In May 1969, a fisherman found the bodies of Salee and Sprinker in the Long Tom River. The police asked students at a nearby university campus about suspicious men and one led them to Brudos, who had phoned her several times to ask her for a date. Brudos gave police a false address, which increased their suspicions. At his garage, the police found copper wire that was determined to have been cut with the same tool that cut the cords used to tie the bodies. Brudos was arrested, and he made a full confession.
On June 28, 1969, Brudos pled guilty to three first-degree murders (Sprinker, Whitney and Salee) and was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life imprisonment in Oregon State Penitentiary. Though he confessed to Slawson's murder, Brudos was neither tried nor convicted for it because he did not make and keep photographs of the body, unlike in the other cases, but only of her foot. Whitney's body was found a month after Brudos' conviction, about a mile downstream from where he said he had thrown it.
While incarcerated, Brudos had piles of women's shoe catalogues in his cell—he wrote to major companies asking for them—and claimed they were his substitute for pornography. He lodged countless appeals, including one in which he alleged that a photograph taken of him with one of his victim's corpses could not prove his guilt, because it was not the body of a person he was convicted of killing. In 1995, the parole board told Brudos that he would never be released.
Illness and death
Brudos died in prison on March 28, 2006 from liver cancer. At the time of his death, he was the longest incarcerated inmate in the Oregon Department of Corrections (a total of 37 years, from 1969 to 2006).
- Brudos is portrayed by actor Happy Anderson in the Netflix original series Mindhunter in Season 1, episodes 7 and 8.
- Actor Ted Levine based part of his performance as serial killer Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb in The Silence of the Lambs on Brudos.
- The American extreme metal band Macabre has a song about Brudos on their 2003 album, Murder Metal.
- J. K. Rowling has stated that the serial killer in her novel Troubled Blood was, in part, based on Brudos.
- Whittington-Egan, Richard; Whittington-Egan, Molly (1992). The Murder Almanac. Castle Douglas, Scotland: Neil Wilson Publishing. pp. 31–32. ISBN 1897784-04-X.
- Barcella, Laura (November 13, 2017). "The Murderers of 'Mindhunter': What's True, What's Not?". aetv.com. New York City: A&E Television Networks LLC. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- Vronsky, Peter (2004). Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters. New York City: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1101204627.
- Holmes, Ronald M. (January 1997). "Sequential Predation: Elements of serial fatal victimization". Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity. Hoboken, New Jersey: Routledge. 4 (1): 33–42. doi:10.1080/10720169708400129.
- Ramsland, Katherine. "The Fetish Killer". truTV Crime Library. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
- Ressler, Robert K.; Schachtman, Tom (1993). Spicer, Charles (ed.). Whoever Fights Monsters. New York City: St. Martin's Paperbacks. p. 297. ISBN 0-671-71561-5.
- Ramsland, Katherine. "The Fetish Killer: The Transvestite". truTV Crime Library. Archived from the original on 10 Feb 2015. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
- Bovsun, Mara (June 14, 2014). "Sicko shoe fetishist goes on a killing spree". Daily News. New York City. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- Stone, Michael H.; Brucato, Gary (2019). The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. pp. 152–156.
- Marrison, James (2010). "The Shoe Fetish Slayer". The World's Most Bizarre Murders. London, England: John Blake Publishing. ISBN 978-1843586982.
- "Inmate Jerome Brudos Passes Away". DOC Public Affairs (Press release). Salem, Oregon: Oregon Department of Corrections. March 28, 2006. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
- Smith, Ed (August 22, 2018). "Scary Movies Based On True Stories: The Truth Is Worse Than Fiction". CrimeWire. San Diego, California: Instant Checkmate LLC. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- O'Connor, Roisin (September 18, 2020). "JK Rowling says cross-dressing killer in new Strike novel is based on real-life murderers". The Independent. Retrieved September 19, 2020.